Discipleship: Imparting Our Lives and Giving Vision

“When Christ calls a man,” said Deitrich Bonhoeffer, “ he bids him come and die.” A. Bell wrote that “There are different kinds of dying, it is true: but the essence of discipleship is contained in those words.” Home schooling, discipleship, dying —what do these words have in common?

Jesus said to his disciples (Mt.16:24), "If anyone would come after me, he must deny him- self and take up his cross daily and follow me.” To follow after Christ is to be a disciple. But this involves denying self and crucifixion. But the life we life we now live is resurrec- tion life. The apostle Paul understood this when he said that “ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” But what does this have to do with home schooling?

The Apostle Paul gives an amazing description of discipleship in I Thes. 2:7-12. He describes discipleship with the use of an analogy. He explains that discipleship is like a mother imparting her life to her children and a father giving vision and direction to the family.

But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

Just as a nursing mother gently and tenderly cares for and cherishes her child, just as loving mother imparts her whole life to her child, so did Paul to those whom he was discipling. I am reminded of Shirley waking in the middle of the night to care for the needs of our young children and then awake early the next morning to continue in her care. Yes, it was labor and hardship. It was “night and day.” That is a description of home schooling!

When our 5 older children we 7 years old, 5 years old, twins that were 3 years old and a new born, we only had one car. Because I had to drive the car to work during the week, this left Shirley stranded at home. She often felt isolated and lonely. Though never out- wardly expressed, she considered this a curse on her life. The wives of most of our friends had a car to go places during the day. You may ask what did Shirley do - how did she handle the situation? She read to our children ... she played with our children ... she talked with our children ... she walked with them to the park. Looking back on those days we recognize that only having one car was not a curse but rather a blessing. We were develop- ing life long relationships with our wonderful children. Though financially a hardship we would not trade those moments for anything.

Paul continues ...

You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory

He explains that a father is given the role of exhorting each of his children. As fathers, we are to be stimulating and encouraging them. As fathers, we are to give our children the vision and direction to live their lives in such a way that our children reflect the character and nature of God. As fathers, we are to lead and guide our family.

I Peter 5:2-4 establishes a proper attitude toward our children: “Tend — nurture, guard, guide and fold — the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or con- straint but willingly ... eagerly and cheerfully. Not (as arrogant, dictatorial and overbear- ing persons) domineering over those in your charge, but being examples — patterns and models of Christian living — to the flock. And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed you will win the conqueror’s crown of glory”. Our ‘flock’ as parents is our children. We are to nurture them ... to guide them ... to fold them. Josh McDowel has accurately stated that rules without relationships will end in rebellion. We would like to add: Rules with relation- ships will result in right choices. We have come to view home schooling as discipleship. We see ourselves building our family oneness, and, at the same time, equipping our chil- dren to someday have their own successful families.

I have observed an attitude which is growing among home school parents. Some are asking if it is really necessary to spend time with their children as they home school.

We desired to have special time with our children. We wanted to spend our entire day learning together, working together, playing together. We wanted to be our children’s role models for how to live successfully in families. We chose to keep our children at home with us to build closer, deeper relationships with them.

It is through the teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic that enable us to develop deep relationships with our children. Home schooling properly implemented becomes the avenue that allows us to do this very thing.

I have heard of many families placing their children in front of the TV or computer screen for endless hours each day. One mother recently expressed apprehension about teaching her 6 your old son at home because she was unable to compete with the computer education being offered through their local school district. I was able to encourage her that the school could not possibly compete with her. She was puzzled at my response. I asked her if her son would be able to sit on the teacher’s lap every afternoon to read a good story together? Computers and TV will never replace the warm loving heart of a mother at home!

There is a poem that expresses many of our feelings about our children that was written by Helen M .Young. It is entitled ...

“Children Won’t Wait.”

Let me quote several verses:

There is a time to treasure every fleeting minute of their childhood. Just eighteen precious years to inspire and train them. We will not exchange this birthright for a mess of pottage called social position, or business success or professional reputation. An hour of concern today may save years of heartache tomorrow; The house will wait, the dishes will wait, the new room can wait, But children don’t wait.

God give us wisdom to see that today is the day with our children. That there is no unimportant moment in their lives. May we know that no other career is so precious, No other work so rewarding,

No other task so urgent. May we not defer it not neglect it, But by they spirit accept it gladly, Joyously, and by thy grace realize. That the time is short and our time is now, For children won’t wait!

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